Administrative Data Research Centre – Scotland, St Andrews team

The Scottish ADRC is led by Chris Dibben at the University of Edinburgh, and is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council. The ADRC – Scotland:

  • Brings together major Scottish centres of research, and builds on predecessor organisation structures, involving secondary analysis of public-sector data in order to create a common framework for research based on an integrated data linkage service These groups, funded by research councils, charities and Government, include the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS), Administrative Data Liaison Service (ADLS), the UK Census and Administrative data LongitudinaL hub (CALLS), Applied Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN), Scottish Health Informatics Centre (SHIP) and eHealth Research Centre (eHIRC), the national digital data centre (EDINA), Centre for Research on Environment Society and Health (CRESH) and the Centre for Cognitive Ageing & Cognitive Epidemiology.
  • Involves world leading experts in the theory, methods and policy of record linkage for secondary uses, including public engagement, ethics, information governance and law; linkage and analysis of large datasets; geocoding, natural language processing and machine learning. This includes experts from a range of sectors from which administrative data is derived including housing, transport, income, labour markets, health, crime and criminal justice, education, social services.
  • Builds on existing services – enabling immediate access to state-of-the-art facilities for research access to de-identified administrative data by accredited researchers.
  • Co-locates with the Scotland hub of national health informatics research endeavour, which has already brought together key infrastructures, technologists and research groups, enabling synergies and collaborations that will ensure rapid progress towards a national informatics centre of world importance.
  • Exploits Scotland’s unique holding of linked, machine readable, historical administrative data, including the 1932 and 1947 Scottish Mental Surveys, civil registration data (1855-present), Aberdeen Children of the Nineteen Fifties (ACONF), and others, to make available powerful administrative data based cohort and longitudinal studies.
  • Aims to support National Records of Scotland (NRS) in their work exploring alternatives to the traditional decennial based census.
  • Will have a significant programme of public engagement – including working with citizens to produce statistics of use and relevance to them, and press engagement to ensure that accurate messages are reported.
  • The ADRC research programme will inform the entire UK Administrative Data Research Network and produce research – both specific to administrative data use and more broadly social science – world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

The St Andrews team will lead research in data linkage methodology, and are currently investigating the potential to use prefabricated secure rooms within the premises of institutions where researchers require secure access to sensitive data.

The St Andrews team involves:

  • Graham Kirby, Alan Dearle – researchers
  • Darren Lightfoot – project manager
  • 2-year research fellow to be appointed summer 2015

The data linkage methodology research programme also includes Alasdair Gray at Heriot-Watt and Peter Christen at Australian National University.